Man Arrested Following Whangamata Bank Incident

Posted by Media Release on 30/10/2012

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Waikato Police say it may be a while before the motive behind the attack on a bank building in the town is clear.

Sergeant Vince Ranger of the Whangamata Police said officers were called to reports of a disturbance at the BNZ bank on Port Rd shortly after 10am yesterday..

"Officers arrived to find a number of windows at the bank had been smashed and a counter damaged by a man armed with what was described as an axe. No-one was injured in the attack and it does not appear that the offender's intent was to rob the premises. A 53-year-old local man was arrested at the scene without incident and he is currently being interviewed by our staff."

While the Police's enquiry into what happened continues Mr Ranger said officers are working with the bank to ensure those present received all the support they needed.

"In such situations Victim Support volunteers play a crucial role in ensuring victims are appropriately taken care of and a they are working with bank workers now as we speak. Though the incident had caused a great deal of interest in the town it is important to note that emergency procedures in place for such situations worked as planned and Police were able to respond in a timely manner."

While the offender at the centre of an incident at a Whangamata bank is still being interviewed, investigators who have spoken to his victims say they now have a clearer picture of what occurred.

Detective Sergeant Martyn Hughes of the Thames-Coromandel CIB said there was four staff present at the Whangamata branch of the BNZ bank on Port Rd when the 53-year-old man armed with an axe entered the premises about 10.10am.

"Three staff were able to flee the building but one was not and remained in the store with the man who smashed a number of windows and the front counter. At this point in time we do not believe the man made any threats toward this staff member who was able to escape before the arrival of Police.

"It then appears a member of the public secured the front doors of the bank to prevent the offender escaping." Mr Hughes said that thanks to a number of calls to the 111 phone service, Whangamata Police were quickly aware of the situation and able to respond. "As is standard procedures for such situations, officers responding were equipped with firearms. This is to ensure the safety of not only members of the public and our staff but also the offender as well. While such incidents in Whangamata are rare and likely to attract widespread attention it is important to note that emergency plans established for such situations worked well."